When looking for fitness motivation, you need to ask yourself, how much do you want it?
When searching for motivation we also need to understand it all comes down priorities. How much do you want it? There is a finite amount of time in the day. We can’t devote as much time as we’d like to everything, and eventually we have to choose. Sometimes it’s a choice between watching another episode, or getting an extra hour’s sleep. Sometimes it’s a choice between a few beers with your mates, or feeling ready to go at tomorrow morning’s training session. Sometimes it’s a choice between spending time with your loved ones or spending another hour at the gym.
These aren’t always simple decisions between the right thing and the wrong thing. There’s been times when I’ve wanted to stay after work because I hadn’t made it to the gym that day, but I’ve hardly seen my wife all week. This isn’t a choice between being lazy and being disciplined – it’s about priorities. My previous job could be pretty tough on my relationship. Sometimes I worked very long hours. Sometimes I’d get a phone call on a Saturday night and have to go into work for several days straight. Going overseas for six months at a time certainly didn’t help either. So I understand that we can be pulled between different responsibilities in the real world. For most people fitness isn’t their job, and it’s not always high up on their list of priorities, especially compared to seeing their loved ones and paying the bills.
Now, having said all that, you need to be honest with yourself. I’ve talked to people who say things like ‘Oh, it’s easy for you. You’re paid to keep fit, but I’ve got a real job. I just don’t have time for that,’ and it makes me mad. The reason is because the vast majority of the time, when you talk to these people a little more, it turns out that they’re usually up to date on the latest reality show, or they were out to 3AM last weekend, or they had takeaway for dinner the last few nights. Consciously or unconsciously, they’re prioritising those things over their health and fitness. Now, if that’s their choice then fine, but be honest with yourself. Don’t watch two hours of America’s Next Top Model but claim not to have time to exercise.
Sometimes, to achieve your goals, you need to make sacrifices. There have been days I knew that I wouldn’t have time to lift after work, so I’ve gotten to work at 6:30 so that I could squat for an hour before running sprints with the boys at 7:30. The week after my honeymoon, I started an eight-week fight camp. I went the entire time without a single cheat meal, and trained three hours a day, six days a week, in addition my full-time job. At the end of the eight weeks, I fought, had a pizza from Crust, and on Monday morning I started the whole process over again.
I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s hard. It can be hard watching people eat Oporto’s when you can’t because you need to make weight. It can be hard to be at the pub and spend the whole night drinking water because you’ve got an early session the next morning. It can be hard to drag your butt out of bed when you’re sore and it’s still dark outside. I’m only human. I don’t like feeling tired and beat up any more than you do. But the feeling you get when you achieve your goals can make it seem worthwhile. You don’t forget about the sacrifices. You remember them, you acknowledge how much they sucked, and you realise that all those times were worth it.
Now, I’m not trying to say that nobody should ever miss a single training session. I’m realistic, and I’ve had some times when my life was pretty crazy, and I didn’t train as much as I usually would. But, you need to ask yourself ‘Are the reasons I’m using justified, or are they just excuses?‘
Have a good think about your priorities. Not just in the way that you think they should be, but in the way that they are reflected in the everyday decisions you make from day to day. My fitness will never take priority over my wife, but it sure as hell does over watching repeats of South Park.
Your fitness is a very simple thing in a way. You get out of it what you put into it. If you consistently stay up too late, eat like crap and skip sessions, then you need to be realistic about the effect that’s going to have. Fitness is all about consistency.
That’s the bad news, but it’s also the good news. It means that when life gets a little crazy, it’s okay to let your training slip a little in favour of more important things. It also means that when it’s your best mate’s bucks night, you don’t have to be the guy standing in the corner sipping soda water. As long as the majority of the time to put your fitness above some of your guilty pleasures. Sometimes that’s going to mean putting down that second piece of chocolate cake, leaving the pub at midnight instead of waking up in your neighbour’s garden, and dragging yourself to the gym when you’d really rather stay in bed.
I’ll finish on an optimistic note. I know that a lot of this stuff can seem hard when you first start. When you’re used to having a bit of a sleep in, walking into the gym so that someone can yell at you before the sun’s even up can seem like the sort of cruel and unusual punishment that the UN should have banned. But the funny thing is, soon it won’t seem that bad. You might even start to enjoy it. Just like, after a while, you might realise that you don’t miss having Crust four nights a week nearly as much as you thought you would (though you will miss it after six months). We’re creatures of habit, which means it’s a lot easier to stay in our new routine than what it seems like at the beginning.
Tune in next week for an article about how to maximise your recovery.